NVDT #59 – Who Dat Say Who Dat?


Prompt – When writing a sequel or series with the same characters, do you ever have to refer back to your first book because you forgot what you wrote about a certain character?

Are you kidding? Forget serials, (of which I have one in the dumpster and one that could become a series), I have trouble keeping track of who’s who in a single book. Which is why I use Scrivener. There’s a great search function and this ­­–

A handy folder in the binder labeled ‘Characters’.

I know people who have dropped library headshots, lengthy bios, materials owned (houses, cars, ranchettes, airplanes, designer clothes and accessories…). I don’t go to extremes. But having a given location where I can hit up the cast when I can’t remember someone and don’t want to drop a placeholder till I can find them is a real benefit. I’m sure many of you have a Word folder or part of a notebook for that but for me? Having them right inside where I’m working is perfect.

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Published by

Phil Huston


23 thoughts on “NVDT #59 – Who Dat Say Who Dat?”

  1. Who, what, when, where, how for everybody in a 20-50+ character novel? Keeping track is a daunting task. Which is one of the reasons, now that I think about it, why many suggest — write fast and furious — so that you can get consistent characters and settings.

    Maybe soon we’ll have AI tools that help us organize and recall information from what’s already been written. “Story Nanny, what color was Tristan’s hair?” “Tristan is bald.” — Oh, that’s right.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I guess my 2nd had about 20 total named characters. The 1st, though, had a couple of villages and marauders and orphaned kids, so prolly close to 40 total. That’s the one you helped me tune the first 500 words (the only good part in the whole book).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I heard that from one of the others out there about these sweeping epics. I went through that over 5 books that will never see the light of day. This group, that group, the England and LA groups over 5 years…holy shit. Remember the trailers for those old movies, “a sweeping epic in CinemaScope. A cast of thousands!” Too much effing work. About the 500 words. There’s the template to modify and make it work for you.
        I have a funny coming up on my sentence starts with ing and semicolons wherein I was chastised by the professor.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I agree. For a pro, there’s some shitty ‘given example’ writing and more than a few typos. The premise is valid within stylistic constraints. We should do the best we can in our chosen formats. While I agree, but having written everything from chatty how-to columns to op manuals and ad copy I know that no one way is the only way. This guy is trying to get lazy slop off the page. A commendable effort. But where would the angst-riddled detectives be without head time. Which can be accomplished without Jim Bob knew so and so was a phony, so I see where he’s going. But as I found in a Hillerman interview, Tony had to go back and throw a criminal in Leaphorn’s patrol car to get the hell out of Leaphorn’s head and give him a sounding board. I am all about characters first. Even in the old days of Deanna and Jackson I was cognizant of if she’s being bitchy, make her bitchy. If he’s frustrated, make him frustrated. As far as lazy goes in the dope dealer Jackson bit a week or so back I should/could have written the “I need money” “we have a deal for you” that got him into it instead of narrating it.
        On topic — this should be a reblog with a shit-for-examples disclaimer.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Looking for his voice. Which he found early on. There’s some ‘Me, Too!’ stuff in there like we all do. But he had a way of dragging you into the story in a straight line. “Bad” EL is still better than 98% of what we see out there these days. Some day we’ll talk about authors’ obsession with effing Cuba and why, when you’re rocking your gig would you want to write “serious” or historical fiction or historical backdrops to fiction? To get your money’s worth out of your research assistant?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Control +F works for me, but then you have to think of a word to put in the box that brings you to the part of the manuscript where you can get the information from. I know it’s strange, but it works for me every time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As long as you can remember a context you’re good. I do that looking for where did I mention X activity or location. But for me Word is so clumsy by comparison for long or segmented documents.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Goddamn it…I’m gonna have to switch to Scrivener. My Ulysses whatever expires next month and every damn time they release an update, it’s like navigating a labyrinth to learn what changed or improved.
    Best part?
    I never use the damn updates, so where’s the value? I basically use the site as a repository for my stories, much like WordPress is a therapeutic self-storage for my frustrations and whimsy.

    Fine! I’ll start looking into subscribing to Scrivener.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You know, in a purely psychological sense it could be argued that in the persona of “author,’ “author” is all of “them.” More of them are merely more of “author.” Which would lead “author” down the path to self-discovery and further into self-awareness, but I have generally associated a good deal of “self-aware’ as “self-absorbed”. As a consequence, I live vicariously through and with my fictional selves without stopping to ponder why.
        Unless you were talking detail and then forget that because detail is not my thing. Someone says to me “an old chipped formica table and a stack of dishes in the sink” I can go to a dirty kitchen without a page and a half of stuff that neither I or the reader really care about. Oh, look, Aunt Maude’s collection of 97 penguins. With notecards! She got one in Niagra Falls, and one in Guam and this one came from Florida! and..and…and. The same with characters. That’s the reader’s job.

        Liked by 1 person

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